Wednesday, November 9, 2011

where to find the day-blind stars.

Listening To: Charlie Brown by Coldplay
Actual conversation with my brother: 
Him: I just challenged Adam to the all you can eat shrimp thing at The Red Lobster. I won! I ate 106. 
Me: That is disgusting. 
Him: Disgusting = Majestic.

Hello beauties (& beastlies)! I just finished all the laundry I accumulated from spending a week on my sister's farm (pictured above). In regards to the laundry, I shall most eloquently say: dang. I haven't discovered loads of things I'm good at. But accumulating laundry? I could medal in that sport.

For those of you who are new to this blog (hello to you! :), my sister's farm is a rather magical place, hidden way-down-deep in Georgia. To get there, you drive forever through a maze of tall pine trees. Then you keep on driving down a long dirt road. First you see glimpses of it - past the fence, through the tangle of woods, across the water ... and then finally you're there.

And you realize there is exactly where your heart needed to be. Everybody deserves a place like that. A place that's even more special because you can't be there all the time.

The farm is a sweet, peaceful, wacky little oasis. It's still a small farm, full of orchards still growing and various feathered-critters roaming free. These birds are called guineas and they're evil:

They're like punk-rock chickens, or something. I'm told they eat ticks. They have mohawks and they have a weird waddle-walk. They move like General Dooku in Star Wars (the Star Wars that stunk). I'm convinced the guineas are forever plotting to takeover the farm. A few years ago, I was sitting at the table, eating a Pop-tart, and I felt like I was being watched (paranoid? bah!). And I glanced up and - I kid you not - the guineas were both peeping in the window, watching me eat. There's not much service on the farm for cell phones and the like, and everybody else is convinced it's because we're in the middle of nowhere. But I think the guineas are responsible. But enough about the freak-birds.

I'm particularly smitten with the water and the woods. Like, I could start a fan club for Georgia pine trees.* I like them because they're tall and skinny and because they get moody in storms. They rustle in the rain. They sing down pretty howl-sounds when the wind rocks through the branches. (They're emo trees, maybe? ; ). I like how the trees shatter the sunrise-light and stir up the fog. Woods are pretty and scary; full of shadows and secrets. I'm kind of obsessed with them.

Of course, I'm most obsessed with the people who live on the farm. They're the sweetest. And they make me feel like the Queen of the World when I visit. They even, and this is major, had my most favorite coffee in the world in the coffee maker! (If you're a coffee fiend, The Fresh Market makes two coffee flavors I'm partial too - Hazelnut and Chocolate Cherry Kiss. If you try those flavors, and add a smidge of this, it's like Starbucks at your house.) (Okay - not Starbucks exactly. But a very worthy poor-writer's substitute.) All I had to do every morning was push a button and wham! Coffee! And they had my favorite creamer in the fridge. And yummy-smelling candles and flowers and lots of chocolate. It was seriously like resort-ville.

I'm in a bittersweet mood today, mostly because I'm missing them. I might talk a bit more about the bitter at the end of this post, but first I'd like to talk about the sweet. Because there was so much sweetness.

This is how my farm week went down:

I spent lots of time walking beside the lake:

I've taken so many pictures of this exact spot. I don't know why I keep taking them. I guess I'm always trying to find a way to bring it back with me? (That web of shadows on the ground? Love.) Sometimes while I'm there, or when I get home and look back through my pictures, I remember my favorite lines of a Wendell Berry poem:

I come into the peace of wild things 
... I feel above me the day-blind stars.

Those lines don't come in tandem in his poem, but they're my favorites. They're ones I keep tucked deep down in my heart for long walks by the lake and treks the woods. The first line is how I feel when I'm on the farm, surrounded by "the peace of wild things" (and, uh, wild people). And the second line is how I feel when I get home. Even on clear nights, it isn't dark enough here to see as many stars as I see when I'm on the farm. Just knowing that they're still up there somewhere makes me happy though. I think I'm at my best when I let the wild places get inside me a little bit. I need to get lost more often.

Tangent: Before you think I'm super classy, dropping the hawt-poetry and what not, I need to make a confession. This week, while walking down the dog food aisle at Publix, I caught myself mumbling these stanzas by that great poet Adam Levine:

I got the moves like Jagger.
I got the mooooves like Jagger.

So ... yeah.

I also spent lots of time with two of my most favorite people ever, pictured here:

You'll recognize The Rogue Accountant on the far right. My niece, Erin, and my nephew, Andy, are the other two cuties in this picture. This pic is from the luau at our hotel during Harry Potter Weekend. Venting: I packed a ridiculously cute (pink!) Rachel Roy dress that I thrifted (!) with the intention of wearing to the luau. But then Tropical Storm Belletrix came and I mostly stayed shivery so I had to wear the only long-sleeve shirt I packed. Which was thermal. Long sleeve thermal. The lumberjack luau? I'm bringing it back!

Andy's luau ensemble rocked so much harder than mine. He is wearing: 1.) a lei, positioned vertically across his chest like Chewbacca wears his weapon-sash thing in Star Wars. 2.) an eye-black fake-tattoo, like football players sport. And 3.) his wand from Olivander's (which was under the table) ('cause you gotta be careful with the wands!). I know I'm biased and all, but Andy is so cute that I have to remind myself not to frequently squeal about him. He gets embarrassed easily; so I restrain myself. Mostly. When I do occasionally slip up and freak out over him and tell him how adorable he is, he mostly just rolls his eyes.

Andy gave me a bat ring from his trick-or-treat stash: 

In 7 year-old boy-speak, I'm fairly certain receiving a bat ring means I'm a little bit awesome.

Andy and I also did some serious reading. We read chapters from Son of Neptune, How to Train Your Dragon, and Hugo Cabret. I love adventure books. I love how those particular books are about very different kinds of adventures. Hugo Cabret pulls at my heart; makes me sad and makes me cheer and makes me want to make something beautiful. Percy Jackson makes me want to read, read, read and just finish the darn thing because ohmygosh what's gonna happen next?! And Hiccup is one of my favorite little heroes ever. If you haven't read How to Train Your Dragon, you totally should. It is such a short read but it is hilarious and you will love Hiccup. 

Of course, Erin and I got into some shenanigans as well. We shopped (that's a given). She made sloppy joes that tasted not-so-sloppy and more like gourmet Italian sandwiches. (Her cooking savvy? It most definitely did NOT come from me.)

And we might have taken Gibby (The Turbo-Golf Cart) on a drive through the woods on Halloween night. (I think the correct terminology is that Gibby is a "mule" but if I wrote that we rode the mule through the woods on Halloween night ... it might conjure up a weird mental image, yes? A funny one. But maybe not the right one ...) It was spooky and fun.

I also took lots of pictures of the piano: 

This is one of my favorite hymns: 

And I snapped a picture of, what I believe to be, the most amazing birdhouse ever:

I took pictures of the glowy-eyed pumpkins: 

And I took pictures of the silly faces we made. I'm showing you mine: 

Because several years ago, a well-intentioned young man told me that my eyes looked like "big blue bowling balls." I'm fairly certain he meant this as a compliment, because that's how I decided to take it, but I'm not so sure. Anyway. When I saw this picture? I thought ... he might be onto something.

The sun shined down on me when I drove home.  I drank lots of coffee and I downloaded Mylo Xyoto, which did a way better job of keeping me awake than the coffee. (I've listened to the whole album 3 times now and I really, really like it.) (Seriously, "Us Against the World" ... might edge out "The Scientist." Maybe.)

The week was so sweet that, on the ride home, I kept thinking this:

When the sun's shining down on me,
When the world's all as it should be.

The world was all as it should be and I loved it so much. I'd spent so much time taking in blue sky and stars and sunlight that I could feel it all; and I was with my family too. Love is better than starry skies and changing leaves; but to have so much of all three, in a week, was pretty rad. And then the very next morning, I got a sad phone call.

When I'm found in the desert place.
When I walk through the wilderness.

On Saturday, after I left the farm, Andy broke his leg (while on a camping trip with some of his little church buddies). Broken bones are always traumatic, but they're especially complicated in my fam. Andy had surgery a few days ago to have a rod inserted into the bone (which, despite sucking right now, will be great for healing long-term). He's in a lot of pain and he's super frustrated, so if you could say a little prayer for him today, that would mean the world to me (and, as always, if I can pray for you, let me know in the comments or shoot me an email). Andy is the bravest kid ever; totally lion-hearted. He's such a little hero. I almost didn't mention this on here at all, because I certainly don't want it to seem like I think my family has endured some horrible tragedy. I know so many of you are making your way through harder circumstances. I'm sure you know it feels to be in love with the world one minute and so angry you wanna scream the next. There are very few peaceful transitions into change. I'm so grateful Andy will continue feeling better and better. He has great doctors. An awesome church. Fun friends. I'm biased, I know - but I also think he has the coolest family ever surrounding him and cheering him on. There's so much to be grateful for today.

This whole week was a reminder for me that the world is really beautiful, and really brittle too, and that there is so much that I can't hold or control. But I get to love and be loved. That's the sweetest part.

I'll end this post with a happy note. I wrote this in my journal while I was on the farm, trying to avoid the freak-birds:

The crows are screaming on the fence post and the wind is stuck in the tree tops. I’m taking long, deep breaths while I watch the lake water glide and shine and shimmer on by me. There is so much about this place I love: the people (obviously) and the woods and the lake. Today I read Ezekiel (the beginning part before it gets super-creepy) and listened to John Prine, and they both use some pretty wild imagery when they write. So now my imagination is full of fire-chariots and wings that beat so loudly they sound like ocean waves. I’m thinking of a song lyric too. It looped through my mind while I looped the lake: ” … looking for that sacred core that burns inside of me.” I love places like this, that are wild and sacred. When I find both those things together, I find a peace that's hard to describe. 

Is there a place you love to go to when you need to clear your mind and steady your heart? I would love to hear about it in the comments!

* Talk about a fan club for pine trees makes me think of The Lorax, which is my favorite Dr. Suess book. I saw the preview for the movie before Puss in Boots ... and I'm torn. Part of me thinks that, indeed, The Lorax is adorable. But part of me thinks he's a little bit creepy. But that's the point, maybe? Was he kind of that way all along? How are you feeling about The Lorax on the big screen?) (By which I mean: Danny Devito = ... The Lorax?)


  1. 1. You found a Rachel Roy dress at a thrift shop? You're my hero.
    2. Praying for Andy. What a bummer!
    3. My heart-steadying place is my hometown, as well as my grandparents' farm. Something about being in places that know me so well just ushers peace straight to my soul.

  2. Praying for Andy!
    You could also pray for me. I just had surgery on Monday to try and figure out what in the world is wrong with my digestive system. I got home yesterday, but still am in a lot of pain. So you could pray for that.
    Your sisters farm sounds like a magical place, one where I would like to go

  3. Loved hearing about this.
    My favorite place to relax? A farm, as well. Only for me, I live here all the time. And once in awhile, I remind myself to stop work for a bit and just take time to enjoy all the parts I love.

    Said a prayer for Andy. That is so rough.


  4. aww, i will be saying prayers for your cute little nephew. it sounds like you had an amazingly awesome time. you painted a beautiful picture, as always.
    Us Against the World, I absolutly LOVE that song.
    pray for me, about college it's currently stressing me out to the core.
    106 shrimp. that's gross.

  5. That farm sounds beautiful! As does your time with your family. I'm sorry for Andy, though. So sad.

    I don't think there's one place that clears my mind and steadies my heart, but I can think of one time where that happened. Two summer ago I was in Ethiopia on a mission trip and for our debrief we went to this hotel/resort thing near a lake. One afternoon we had an hour of free time and I hadn't done a quiet time in a while so I lay by the pool overlooking the lake and just listened to my ipod. That hour still sticks out to me as one of the most peaceful, perfect hours I've ever spent. It was the best way to end the trip.

    Hope you're having a wonderful Wednesday! :)

  6. Nature (and farms) definitely has an inspiring, pull-you-closer-to-God effect. :) I'm sorry about Andy and hope he feels better soon!

    They do come up with strange animal names for the ATV vehicles. Like Mules, Gators, and what we have on our farm: the Workhorse. :)

    The voice cast for The Lorax really creeps me out, to be honest. I'm afraid they'll really mess things up! Dr. Seuss, however, is awesome for being earth conscious long before it was trendy.


  7. The whole post was wonderful, as usual, (except for the broken leg part...that was very sad!) but you should know that I busted up in a crowded Starbucks at the Adam Levine lyric. Because that song is TOTALLY one of my guilty pleasure favorites right now. Whenever it comes on the radio I crank it to eleventy-thirty. <3

  8. I heart your tumblr...

  9. Hey Nat! Will totally be praying for your nephew!
    I have a place where I go, its a forest nearby and theres just this one particular spot where my heart flutters :)
    Also I have to tell you! I bought the Bar Method dvd and it arrived today. I tried it out..boy did it kick my butt! Its reallly good though and am gonna keep going with it :) Thanks for mentioning it on your blog!
    Anyway hope your doing fantastic!
    Oh could do with prayer as at work it's been a wee bit rough...kinda emotionally going through alot too :(
    Love Hannah :)

  10. Your nephew is so darn cute. And I am praying for him :)

    I'm sure this is a given with any book nerd out there, but bookstores automatically help me breathe a bit easier. They are so magical and mysterious and good. I go there in all sorts of moods, and they always make me feel right. Also a given, when I'm with my fiance, places become a lot more fun and homey. He has a way of settling down my crazy mind, and he is just hilarious. :)